Someone plays CG without nails?

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
6strings

Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by 6strings » Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:35 pm

There was one Yugoslavian/Croatian guitarist, with hame Milan Grakalic, who was pupil of Emilio Pujol. He has recorded several LPs all without using nails. I have heard some of them and I must say, he sounded astonishing. Unfortunately i have no idea if those LPs are transferred to CDs after the break of Yugoslavia, since I have no contact with anyone from those parts of the world any more.

I don't know if there are recordings of Pujol avialable. He was as well known to play without nails (I think).

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by rojarosguitar » Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:44 pm

I'm not a professional guitarist, so it's not of any importance to the issue what I think, but recently after a lot of struggle I had decided to forget about nails altogether.

Funny enough, suddenly they decided to grow a bit better, and I must say, I'm quite glad. But I'll keep them much shorter now than before and I think, I get much better tone this way. Just a slight edge of a nail to excite some more harmonics make the sound more vivid.

BTW some of great flamenco players - not long ago the domain of nail mania almost - play with quite short nails. Recently I took part in a workshop with Antonio Rey, who is one of the young (or maybe not anymore so young) kings of picado and a great flamenco player - very short nails!
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...

scy932
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by scy932 » Sun Jul 26, 2015 2:33 pm

Some guitarists play without nails but with nails you can increase the volume of the guitar.

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:09 pm

If someone would use microphone and amplifier, then volume would be unlimited :)
I think in modern time volume is not as important as it was in the past...
I'd better speak by music...Please listen Andrei Krylov at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Prime etc. Thanks!

Scot Tremblay
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:54 pm

rojarosguitar wrote:...BTW some of great flamenco players - not long ago the domain of nail mania almost - play with quite short nails. Recently I took part in a workshop with Antonio Rey, who is one of the young (or maybe not anymore so young) kings of picado and a great flamenco player - very short nails!
This was something I noticed already in the mid 1980s when I attended Paco Penas school in Cordoba... the classical players all had substantial nails (for the era) and the Flamencos played with generally much shorter...not all, of course, but it seemed most preferred short nails.
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Sun Jul 26, 2015 5:13 pm

scy932 wrote:Some guitarists play without nails but with nails you can increase the volume of the guitar.
I recently had an experience with a nail-less professional lutenist playing one of my period guitars (he also plays 19th century guitars) and after we discovered the proper strings to suit his style and taste, I was astonished at the volume he could get out of the guitar. It is a different tone, of course, but honestly I have not heard one of the particular model guitars of mine played louder and with such little effort needed to achieve that volume.

With the high tension nylon or carbon strings I agree it is difficult (next to impossible) to get volume without nails. However, as I experienced, with the proper low gauge strings, proper set-up and excellent technique just as much volume (perhaps more) as nails might be possible. I will need to explore this more but I'm no longer sure that nails equals volume.
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

Alan Green
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by Alan Green » Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:14 pm

It's interesting - on the Guitar Star programme on Sky Arts the other week Milos told the CG group winner that his rendition of RDLA was the best he'd ever heard, and then rubbished the guy for playing without nails (just as Tarrega did).

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RobMacKillop
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:32 am

Hi folks. I've been mentioned a couple of times here, and I've just rejoined the forum after a gap of five years. I'm a no-nails player.

I am in the process of creating a website devoted to no-nails classical guitar playing. I only started it yesterday, and have a lot more to upload, so if you are interested, please bookmark it. I include videos not just by myself, but by other no-nail players of the past and present. There will be an essay on technique, and advice on strings.

I haven't "officially" launched it yet, but you can have a sneak peek: http://rmClassicalGuitar.com

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RobMacKillop
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:34 am

On the question of volume, I hope to soon record a duet with one of my students, who is a confirmed nail player. It will interesting to hear both approaches at the same time.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Thu Jul 30, 2015 10:47 am

RobMacKillop wrote: I am in the process of creating a website devoted to no-nails classical guitar playing.
I'm astonished to see Sharon Isbin listed there Rob. In the photo of her in the SoloEtte advert her nails are much longer than mine!

Clearly, in her own words, its something she has experimented with...
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
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RobMacKillop
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Jul 30, 2015 10:52 am

I was equally surprised to read her comments, Stephen. Clearly this needs more inquiry - as I said, the website is currently work in progress. I listened to a few of her videos, and on some of them she is clearly playing with nails. On the White House one, I'm not so sure, but it's hard to tell. If anyone knows her, please ask her for more information. Undoubtedly she has tried, used and enjoyed playing without nails.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:31 am

RobMacKillop wrote:Undoubtedly she has tried, used and enjoyed playing without nails.
Indeed. I was interested that she mentioned the need to toughen RH callouses after taking nails down. I had a week without nails for my videos on the Batov, and was surprised how sore the tips sometimes felt. I'd have thought they'd be OK after all the soft stuff contacts the string normally anyway. Maybe the crucial bit is the portion of skin where the nail ramp carries the string away. With the nail absent, that portion is then the last, perhaps more pressurised, portion to contact the string.

I only had a week to give the experiment and was never quite happy with the tone.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)

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RobMacKillop
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:11 pm

A week is nothing, Stephen. It took me about three years to stop playing the way I used to play, and work out a new technique. I completely disagree with her about callouses - my fingers are very soft, and I use hand cream to keep them that way. You need to develop a different way of coaxing sound out the string. I talk a bit about it on my technique video (surprise, surprise, on the Technique page!) and will be uploading more details in due course.

The thing to remember is that, just as with nails, there is more than one way to do it. But it takes time and commitment.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Thu Jul 30, 2015 1:10 pm

So you never find your fingertips sore? Maybe its not a matter of callouses in the way one thinks for the fretboard hand, but a more subtle and soft protective layer.

A week was all I had, its explained in my Corbetta post why.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)

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RobMacKillop
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Re: Someone plays CG without nails?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:15 pm

No, no pain, no rough bits. Low-tension strings help.

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